MLA Finlay writes to BBC over poppy complaint

IN MEMORY. Cllr John Finlay and Chief Executive John Dempsey lay a wreath on behalf of the Council on Sunday.INBM46-14 053SC.
IN MEMORY. Cllr John Finlay and Chief Executive John Dempsey lay a wreath on behalf of the Council on Sunday.INBM46-14 053SC.

North Antrim DUP MLA John Finlay has written to the head of BBC Northern Ireland to complain about a number of its presenters not wearing poppies.

The MLA’s letter to Peter Johnston read: “In recent years, this issue has been a subject of considerable debate.

“Once again this year, it has been noticeable that several presenters have seemingly chosen, for whatever reason, not to wear a poppy.” Mr Finlay then went on to name specific presenters.

“Staff in the BBC are employed by the publicly funded British Broadcasting Corporation. The BBC leads the way in providing dignified coverage of the annual remembrance events surrounding 11 November,” he continued.

“All of its employees are paid out of public funds and they, too, should display dignity and respect to the fallen.

“Those staff who fail to wear a poppy are not only showing disrespect to those who fought and died, but they are out of step with the national mood and with the BBC’s general remit. By refusing to wear a poppy, they are making an overtly political gesture which many of us find offensive.

“As a licence payer, I feel I am entitled to be sure that all staff act impartially at all times. Those named...have singularly failed to do so.

“I would be grateful for clarification of the policy on the wearing of poppies within the BBC. To me, the wearing of a poppy by BBC presenters really ought to be mandatory. Those who fail to wear one should, in the interests of transparency, be required to explain their reasons to licence payers.”

A BBC Northern Ireland spokesperson said: We have received, and will consider, Councillor Finlay’s editorial complaint. Poppies may be worn on screen for a designated period each year (in this case, 25 October - 11 November 2014, inclusive).

“The decision to wear a poppy is a matter of personal choice for BBC presenters and contributors. This approach is consistent across the BBC’s local and network output.”